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Mere days after adidas confirmed that it was ending its partnership with Kanye "Ye" West and his YEEZY brand over his anti-Semitism (and more), its executives announced "interesting plans" for the YEEZY sneaker designs that adidas still owns. Pretty vague stuff but we might be getting a bit more clarity of what adidas has in mind.
YEEZY sneakers are such a major part of adidas' bottom line that it held a sudden earnings call on November 9 to publicly adjust its expected income for 2022 and restate its ownership of certain YEEZY sneakers.
“We own all the IP, we own all the designs, we own all the versions and new colorways, so it's our IP," Harm Ohlmeyer, adidas' CFO said. "It's our product."
In late December, Sneaker leakers on social media revealed what they claim to be a first look at adidas' YEEZY-free BOOST 350 shoes, which looks very much like the original YEEZY BOOST 350s.
Purportedly swiped from adidas' back-end, the leaked image shows a grey ("granite," in colorway terms) in-line 350 with the usual "SPLY-350" text knitted into the Primeknit upper and V2's ridged sole unit. Very familiar to everyone who's ever seen a 350 before (which is probably everyone on the planet at this point) but almost indistinguishable from the original YEEZY sneaker.
The leakers promise a full-size run in baby, kids, and adult sizes alike — a normal rollout for new YEEZY sneaker colorways pre-YEEZY split — and a surprisingly close January 2023 release date. Adult sizes are purportedly priced at $230 which, again, was typical for adidas' YEEZY drops.
Highsnobiety has reached out to adidas to comment on rumors of the in-line 350 sneakers.
For now, it's all unconfirmed but hardly unbelievable. YEEZY sneakers were, and continue to be, one of adidas' most popular products, worn by basically everyone everywhere. Seriously, look down while walking through any metropolis across the globe and you'll see a few, especially the 350.
Even as recently as a year ago, YEEZY shoes were topping nearly all sneaker search results, not even just for adidas.
There's even leaked imagery that suggests the a similar kind of post-YEEZY treatment for the BOOST 500, though it must be underscored that this is all pure rumor.
A supposed photo of a non-YEEZY 500 releasing in 2023 retains the "YEEZY" text on the tag, which immediately seems suspect — adidas may own the rights for the shoes but it doesn't have rights for the YEEZY trademark — but, like with all sneaker leaks, who's to say?
The less said about Ye nowadays, the better. Following a month of platforming bigotry and bigots, his remaining defenders are stans unwilling to accept that their idol could ever do any wrong and white supremacists, which says plenty.
However, for adidas, the sneakers that once bore YEEZY's name are invaluable. By reintroducing those shoes without Ye or his brand attached, adidas obviously hopes to recapture the massive swath of the population that bought them in droves right up until YEEZY Supply was shut down.
And that population doesn't necessarily include sneakerheads, mind you: the 350 in particular was a shoe created with "everybody" in mind and its sales prove its success. All adidas has to do is make enough to satisfy demand.